Most of us don’t think twice about calling a misguided search for wrongdoing a “witch hunt,” but for some Massachusetts descendants of Puritans, who still take witch hunting very seriously, willy-nilly references to the practice is cause for protest. We reached out to one protester — the reverend Goodman Mather, who lives on his family’s historic property outside of Boston and is a descendant of the legendary minister, Cotton Mather. “I’m pretty much used to the way the term gets thrown around,” he said, “but it really irritated me when Donald Trump began referring to the Mueller investigation in this way. Hunting witches has been something our family has revered for centuries, and to see it politicized like this trivializes the whole mission.”
The small group of Puritan descendants who still gather certain days of the year, such as the winter solstice, to hunt witches seeks to carry on the traditions of their elders. Just last year, local journalists captured footage of three drownings. The victims, two New England women and one man, had been tried by religious leaders and found guilty after “spectral evidence” was brought to bear against them. Another Puritan descendant, who wished to remain anonymous, said the group still uses Mather’s 1689 treatise, Memorable Providences Relating to Witchcraft and Possessions, as a manual for their efforts. Massachusetts law enforcement has been trying for decades to root out these terrifying practices. Those responsible for the latest drownings, for example, have been convicted of manslaughter and face life in prison.
Still, the remnant of witch hunters are proud of their heritage and continue to resent the colloquial usage of “witch hunt.” After the Mueller report came out, the President’s Twitter references to hunting witches subsided, but as Republicans grilled Mueller yesterday, the references again surged. “I’m not partisan. I just want them to stop trivializing our heritage.” Jonathan Winthrop said after the hearings yesterday, “These politicians need to recognize our religious freedoms and that we’re doing the world a favor by eradicating a great evil. Instead, they act like any investigation they don’t like qualifies as some kind of witch hunt. I mean, I didn’t see any ducking stools or flaming stakes at the hearing. If they wanted, we could show them a real witch hunt.”
Yeah, of course this post is satire.